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Man arraigned on five felony counts for allegedly sexually assaulting adopted daughter


By Danielle Salisbury

JACKSON, MI – A 45-year-old Blackman Township man who admitted to masturbating in front of and fondling his 5-year-old adopted daughter has been charged with five felony counts.

Jackson County Magistrate Frederick Bishop on Thursday, Aug. 15, arraigned the man on two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of aggravated indecent exposure.

Both first-degree criminal sexual conduct, a penetration offense, and the indecent exposure charge, enhanced because the man is considered a “sexually delinquent person,” are punishable by up to life in prison.

As the man’s wife wept in the back of the courtroom, Bishop ordered the man held without bond in the Jackson County Jail.

His name is not being released because he shares a name with his daughter and the Citizen Patriot typically does not print names of sexual assault victims.

The man told Blackman-Leoni Township public safety Detective Sgt. Christopher Boulter and Detective Joseph Merritt that, more than once, he pulled down his pants and masturbated in front of his daughter, according to a family court petition. The petition, filed by the Michigan Department of Human Services, seeks to terminate his parental rights to the girl and four other children, all sons, ages 5, 5, 12 and 15. The 5-year-olds are triplets who were adopted by the couple.

The man said he would inappropriately touch his daughter while giving her a bath, according to the petition, which contained some details too graphic for publication.

He told the detectives he has been addicted to porn "all his life.” He said this addiction slowly crept back into his life, taking him to a “place I thought I would never go,” the petition states. He “struggled with masturbation” since he was 12, he told Boulter and Merritt.

The man’s lawyer, Phillip Berkemeier, said his client sought professional counseling. “He is doing everything he can to act responsibly,” Berkemeier told Bishop.

Berkemeier asked Bishop to set a bond the man could post. He said the man wants to continue to provide for his family.

Bishop denied this request, saying the allegations were “the most egregious I have heard.”

Berkemeier said the man has long been employed.

He said he stayed away from his family in a basement apartment since the allegations surfaced in July.

His church participation will be limited and monitored, Berkemeier said.

The man was involved in youth ministries at a local church and his wife is a part of the staff. Boulter said the man is no longer in any position of authority at the church.

Assistant Prosecutor Kati Rezmierski, taking her turn to address the man’s possible release, said detectives have a full, recorded confession and the chance of conviction, and eventual imprisonment, is great.

The complaint alleges the man’s criminal activity began in January 2012 and continued until July 2013, according to information presented in court.

Boulter said a babysitter learned of the abuse and contacted authorities.

He said the children’s mother was “mortified.” The children remain in her care.

Outside the courthouse, the man’s wife, the church pastor and others gathered with Berkemeier on the sidewalk. They declined comment.

2013 Aug 15